Dominique Kalifa traces the emergence of the urban underworld in the Western world during the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. Vice, Crime, and Poverty represents a remarkable synthesis of a considerable primary and secondary literature on these subjects spanning numerous national histories, incorporating the work of Eric J. Hobsbawm, Michel Foucault, Bronislaw Geremek, Richard J. Evans, Alain Corbin, Louis Chevalier, Tyler Anbinder, and others. Kalifa is less interested in describing and analyzing the material conditions found in informal economies and subaltern subcultures and more concerned with the language and rhetoric embedded in discussions of crime and poverty. According to Kalifa, “The underworld arose from a representation, a cultural construction that was born at the intersection of literature, philanthropy, the desire for reform, and the moralizing of elites” (6).

Kalifa insightfully demonstrates how languages and vocabularies originating in the descriptions of the underworld by nineteenth-century contemporaries created inaccurate, misinformed, exaggerated, and...

You do not currently have access to this content.